Liam Payne says he was lucky to survive being robbed when he was 12 by a knife-wielding thug.
The One Direction star, 25, who is backing the Mirror’s campaign to tackle the knife epidemic, added: “It was one of the scariest things I’ve been through.”
The star added that it has inspired him to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying a blade.
The One Direction singer talked of his ordeal – when a huge hunting weapon was pointed in his face – as he backed the Mirror’s End the Knife Epidemic campaign.
Liam has called on the Government to act, and said: “It’s fantastic the Mirror is involved in this.”
Talking candidly about being mugged as a lad while growing up in Wolverhampton, he said: “It was one of the scariest things I have ever been through in my life.
“I was lucky, but so many aren’t… Something needs to be done. We’ve reached unprecedented levels of people losing their lives.”
Liam, 25, told how he and a friend were lured to a remote spot in Bilston, a town roughly three miles from the centre of Wolverhampton, and then set upon.
He said: “This 6ft 2 guy says ‘I will tell you the truth, lads, you’ve been brought here today to get jacked’. My life flashed before my eyes.
“He pulled out a massive hunting knife and I felt my heart in my throat. It was really scary.
“He was pointing the knife in our faces, then sharpening the blade with a stick and making up raps.
“We ended up giving him what we had in our wallets. Eventually we just legged it and jumped on the nearest bus even though we didn’t know where it was going.”
When he got home, he was too nervous to tell his parents about the mugging, a fact that he still regrets. Liam has urged children affected by knife crime to open up to loved ones.
He said: “I didn’t want my parents to know how far I was from my home… It’s important that you tell someone if something like that happens to you. They can help.
“Two weeks after I was robbed at knifepoint, I saw the guy again in town and had to run again.” Liam knows others have been far less fortunate than he was.
He said: “I often talk to my friend who was with me at the time, saying ‘we are so lucky to be here’.
“There are a lot of people who aren’t that lucky.”
He added his ordeal taught him “not to take stupid risks”. He said: “We were bored kids with nothing to do. We went along with it and I ended up in the worst situation in my life.”
His experience explains why he is so passionate about urging people not to carry a weapon.
He said: “You pick up that blade and it’s the biggest risk you are taking in your life.”
Our campaign is demanding action on police numbers, youth services and education – and the appointment of a knife crime tsar.
He said peer pressure is a huge reason why youths carry weapons, as well as the fact that many are from deprived areas. Liam has urged the Government to address the issues head on.
He said: “We need a knife crime tsar… someone who can partner up with schools and the police – give them the powers they need. We’ve lost 20,000 officers in recent years.”
Liam, who has a one-year-old son with pop star Cheryl, said becoming a dad has spurred him on to try to make a difference.
He added: “I think there’s a lot of myth around it, that it’s just London that has a problem. It’s not – a lot of the bigger cities have increasing problems, in particular my home town of Wolverhampton.”
Knife crime in the West Midlands has risen 85% since 2012. Liam said the Government must do more to equip teachers with the skills to identify children at risk of being lured into carrying knives.
He added: “It’s really important that parents are talking to their kids, and that schools are running programmes with people who have been affected by knife crime.
We need more Government-run programmes. If a parent or teacher [suspects] a kid could be in trouble, they need to let them know what they are getting themselves into.
“It’s not just the life you are taking, you are going to take away from your own life. You will end up in prison. There are better ways to do things – you have to reach and ask for the right help.”
Since the beginning of this year 10 teenagers have been knifed to death. We know violent crime has spiralled under this Government.
Offences involving a knife or sharp instrument have risen for the fourth year running.
So, when Theresa May got up at PMQs this week to express her concern about the most recent victims, she stands accused of crocodile tears.
If she was concerned about the epidemic, she would not have tried to evade responsibility by pretending cuts in police numbers have no relationship to rising levels of violent crime.
The slaughter on our streets is a consequence of Tory austerity. It is not just the 21,000 police officers taken off the street.
The PM needs to stop shedding her crocodile tears.
No one is interested in more summits and reviews. The public needs her to make funding available for police, the youth service and other public services that are essential in the fight against knife crime.